Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trial date set for Emilio Fusco, last of 4 to be charged in slaying of mob boss Adolfo 'Big Al' Bruno

A federal judge on Friday set a March 5 trial date for accused mob murderer Emilio Fusco, the last of four defendants set to be tried for the 2003 murders of crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and low-level associate Gary D. Westerman.
Fusco, 42, of Longmeadow, had been fighting extradition in Italy since he and three others were charged in a federal court in Manhattan last year. Former Genovese acting boss Arthur "Artie" Nigro, 66, of Bronx, N.Y., and onetime mob enforcers Fotios and Ty Geas of West Springfield, were convicted of Bruno's murder by a jury on April 1. The Geases also were convicted of Westerman's murder.
According to government witnesses at trial, Bruno was killed in classic Mafia rub-out fashion - in part to make way for a new power structure and in part because Fusco circulated a court record stating Bruno had talked to an FBI agent, thus branding him an informant. Fusco is alleged to have conspired with the Geases and other mob associates to gain approval from Nigro and other New York higher-ups to kill a Bruno, a longtime "made man."
Fusco's pretrial hearing included a lengthy argument over whether Fusco was fit to be released on pretrial bail. Fusco's defense lawyer argued his client had been falsely portrayed by the government as a fugitive after traveling to Italy on family business. A prosecutor countered that Fusco is alleged to have committed two murders while out on bail in a 2000 racketeering case that yielded loan-sharking and money-laundering convictions for Fusco and a slew of other gangsters.
"Two murders. On bail. He is an off-the-charts danger," Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig said.
Fusco has denied the charges.
Bruno was shot six times in a dark parking lot outside his regular Sunday night card game on Nov. 27, 2003 by admitted shooter Frankie A. Roche, who has since turned government witness.
Witnesses said Westerman died after being shot by the Geases, bludgeoned with shovels by Fusco and mob soldier-turned-informant Anthony J. Arillotta and dumped in a makeshift grave in a wooded area in Agawam. Westerman disappeared three weeks before Bruno's murder. His remains were not recovered until April 2010, after Arillotta was arrested in the case and began cooperating with the government.

Prosecutors said Fusco bought a one-way ticket to Italy amid media reports of the Westerman dig and Arillotta's turning government witness. Fusco was arrested in Italy in July and was only extradited to the United States to face the charges last month.
Through his defense lawyer, William Aronwald, Fusco has repeatedly denied flying to Italy to avoid prosecution. Prosecutors argued to U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel that Fusco purchased a one-way ticket to his native country on April 8, 2010, three days after news reports began running about the Westerman dig. However, Aronwald on Friday told Castel that his client had long planned an April trip to Italy to attend his sister's 50th birthday party and assist his ailing mother.
His return was delayed by his mother's frail state, a volcanic eruption in Iceland and business matters, Aronwald argued. Further, two FBI agents had knocked on his door in February while Fusco and his wife were vacationing in St. Kitt's and informed Fusco's son his father was under investigation and they wanted to speak to him; Fusco later learned the probe included murder allegations, according to Aronwald.
"Mr. Fusco was already on notice that he was being actively investigated by the FBI for charges including murder," Aronwald told Castel.
"But he didn't know (then) that the FBI knew where a body was and were digging for it," Castel shot back.
Castel told the lawyers to reduce their arguments to writing and scheduled an additional hearing on the bail issue for July 23 in U.S. District Court.



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